Frustrated teachers may think that strike threats and picket signs are the only way to get the Legislature's attention if they end up with the proposed 5 percent compensation package, the Utah Education Association president said Friday.
Lily Eskelsen said the UEA has taken a "positive, cooperative" stance in pushing its cause on Capitol Hill this year, but legislators seem to have forgotten last year's promise to close the gap between Utah teacher salaries and their peers in other Western states.Utah teachers earn an average of $25,331, compared with a Western states average of $29,073. The national average is $31,166.
The value of the Weighted Pupil Unit, the basic school funding formula from which teacher salaries are paid, has not been set yet by the 1991 Legislature, but the governor has proposed a 5 percent compensation package for all state employees.
Eskelsen said that the 5 percent would not be the true compensation package. Of the 5 percent, 1.7 percent must be used to keep the retirement fund stable. That leaves 3.3 percent to cover both pay raises and health and other insurance benefits. Teachers may end up with only a 1 percent to 2 percent pay boost, she said.
Asked about strike rumors, Eskelsen replied, "Are teachers going to strike? Our members have to make that decision, but teachers are not on strike alert."